Rumble: Mohammed wants baksheesh

On the road from the hotel in Cairo to the airport, we took a local taxi. The concierge had warned us: "70 Egyptian pounds, not more!"...

Our driver took off, cutting off a roundabout by driving in the wrong direction. He rolled down his window, snorted up and spit whatever came up from deep, deep inside his throat with a well expressed Arrghaaat-[spit]. Mafoud, my colleague sitting in the back behind the driver, pulled away from the open window, hoping the snot would not hit him.

The driver introduced himself as Mohammed and asked if it was OK if he would smoke. We are all smokers and of course we did not mind.. We joked around with the little English he could understand, and the little Arabic Mafoud could come up with. We cursed at the bad drivers (the other ones), laughed at the near-hits as Mohammed cut off other cars, cheered as we passed yet another taxi, but loudly protested as he pulled in at a gas station to join a queue of twenty cars. "Petrol, petrol!", he smiled at us. We answered. "No petrol, airport, jalla!" So he reversed, with two pedestrians trying to avoid hitting us, and Mohammed continued to the airport.

He explained he had ten kids, was a poor man, and needed "baksheesh". "Baksheesh" is a word you often hear in the Middle East, and South-West Asia... It means anything from a fee, a tip or a bribe.... Somewhere a way to pay for services rendered, let's say.
Mohammed did not mean the negotiated 70 Egyptian pounds, but money on top... We kind of liked the guy, and agreed on 30 pounds baksheesh.. He seemed happy as he kissed us goodbye when we arrived at the airport... I think next time we will pay 40 pounds and ask him not to kiss us. (I don't know how you women can do this.. Yak!)


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